Starting Ole Miss left guard Javon Patterson has suffered a shoulder injury that will require surgery, as first reported by Rivals’ RebelGrove. The news comes as a bit of a surprise, as head coach Hugh Freeze had not indicated that Patterson was an injury concern prior to Tuesday’s announcement. Nonetheless, Rebel fans shouldn’t be too worried—Patterson is projected to make a full recovery in time to suit up for the opener against South Alabama on September 2nd.
In the meantime, look for senior Daronte Bouldin to slide into the starting left guard spot during fall camp. Bouldin started multiple games in 2016 and has been a steady contributor on the team’s offensive line throughout the past three seasons. It’s also possible that Rod Taylor, who moved to tackle last season, gets some looks at his old position. The once highly-recruited Taylor has been hindered by injuries and off-field issues for much of his college career, but he possesses the athletic ability to swap between guard and tackle.
As a multi-year starter and former preseason All-SEC player, Patterson is vital to new offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s goals of improving red zone offense and rushing efficiency. In particular, Patterson’s run-blocking abilities could prove instrumental in establishing what Longo has described as a “aggressive, downhill running game.”
The Rebel rushing attack was mediocre at best in 2016, finishing 83rd in the country in rushing success rate. At times the Rebels were able to manufacture success on the ground, such as against Memphis when the team piled up 263 yards on 6.0 yards per carry. Against the staunch defenses of Alabama, LSU, and Auburn, however, the ground game was essentially nonexistent, rushing for less than 3.5 yards per carry in each contest. As the only returning offensive lineman to start all 12 games last season, Patterson is vital to improving the ground game’s effectiveness in 2017.
In a recent spring training interview, Patterson himself enunciated the potential of this Ole Miss offensive line, saying “We should be good. We have seven or eight guys in our rotation who played a lot last year. We should be a strong part of our team because of our experience and the amount of cohesiveness we have.” Of course, much of that cohesiveness is dependent on Patterson’s availability this upcoming season. His experience will be key to a new Ole Miss offense looking to take the next step.